WASHINGTON - Democratic lawmakers in Congress have become more adamant about the need for stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, even as the powerful gun-rights lobby doubled down in its opposition to any new regulations.
President Barack Obama has said he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress in January and called on the National Rifle Association, the nation's most powerful gun-rights organization, to join the effort.
"It's going to be a battle. But the president, I think, and vice-president, are really ready to lead the fight," Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent said in a TV interview Sunday.
The president has asked Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check. Obama also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's chief executive officer, however, continued to insist that not a single gun regulation would make children safer. He criticized "a media machine" for blaming the gun industry for each new attack like the one at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Look, a gun is a tool. The problem is the criminal," LaPierre said, in a nationally broadcast television interview.
LaPierre hardly backed down from his comments Friday, when the NRA broke its weeklong silence on the Dec. 14 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook that killed 20 students and six adults. The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed his mother at their home and shot himself as police closed in at the school.
LaPierre's assertion that guns and police officers in all schools are what will stop the next killer drew widespread scorn.
Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, whose district includes Newtown, called it "the most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen." A headline from the conservative New York Post summarized LaPierre's initial presentation before reporters with the headline: "Gun Nut! NRA loon in bizarre rant over Newtown."
LaPierre told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that only those armed guards and police would make kids safe.
"If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy," LaPierre said. "I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe."
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said LaPierre was "so extreme and so tone deaf" that he was making it easier to pass gun legislation.
"Look, he blames everything but guns: movies, the media, President Obama, gun-free school zones, you name it. And the video games, he blames them," Schumer said.
On Monday, two firefighters were shot and killed and two others were wounded in western New York state while responding to a fire, police said. In Washington state, a 30-year-old man was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a crowded bar , according to police.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Adam Goldman contributed to this report.
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